of Ecuador's President Rafael Correa
during the Alianza PAIS convention
in Quito, Ecuador, on Saturday.
Correa is the party's leader.
(Dolores Ochoa / AP)
It seemed as if the tide in Latin America was turning. The interference by Washington and exploitation by international corporations might finally be defeated.
Latin American governments, headed by charismatic leaders such as,
...won huge electoral victories.
They instituted socialist reforms that benefited the poor and the working class. They refused to be puppets of the United States.
They took control of their nations' own resources and destinies. They mounted the first successful revolt against neoliberalism and corporate domination. It was a revolt many in the United States hoped to emulate here.
But the movements and governments in Latin America have fallen prey to the dark forces of U.S. imperialism and the wrath of corporate power.
The tricks long practiced by Washington and its corporate allies have returned:
It is an old, dirty game...
President Correa, who earned enmity from Washington for granting political asylum to Julian Assange four years ago and for closing the United States' Manta military air base in 2009, warned recently that a new version of Operation Condor is underway in Latin America.
Operation Condor, which operated in the 1970s and '80s, saw thousands of labor union organizers, community leaders, students, activists, politicians, diplomats, religious leaders, journalists and artists tortured, assassinated and disappeared.
The intelligence chiefs from right-wing regimes in,
...had overseen the campaigns of terror.
They received funds from the United States and logistical support and training from the Central Intelligence Agency.
Press freedom, union organizing, all forms of artistic dissent and political opposition were abolished. In a coordinated effort these regimes brutally dismembered radical and leftist movements across Latin America. In Argentina alone 30,000 people disappeared.
Latin America looks set to be plunged once again into a period of dictatorial control and naked corporate exploitation.
The governments of Ecuador, Bolivia and Venezuela, which is on the brink of collapse, have had to fight off right-wing coup attempts and are enduring economic sabotage.
The Brazilian Senate impeached the democratically elected President Dilma Rousseff.
Argentina's new right-wing president, Mauricio Macri, bankrolled by U.S. hedge funds, promptly repaid his benefactors by handing $4.65 billion to four hedge funds, including Elliott Management, run by billionaire Paul Singer.
The payout to hedge funds that had bought Argentine debt for pennies on the dollar meant that Singer's firm made $2.4 billion, an amount that was 10 to 15 times the original investment.
The previous Argentine government, under Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, had refused to pay the debt acquired by the hedge funds and acidly referred to them as "vulture funds."
I interviewed Guillaume Long, Ecuador's minister of foreign affairs and human mobility, for my show "On Contact" last week.
Long, who earned a doctorate from the Institute for the Study of the Americas at the University of London, called at the United Nations for the creation of a global tax regulatory agency.
He said such an agency should force tax-dodging corporations, which the International Monetary Fund estimates costs developing countries more than $200 billion a year in lost revenue, to pay the countries for the natural resources they extract and for national losses stemming from often secret corporate deals. He has also demanded an abolition of overseas tax havens.
Long said the neoliberal economic policies of the 1980s and '90s were profoundly destructive in Latin America. Already weak economic controls were abandoned in the name of free trade and deregulation.
International corporations and banks were given a license to exploit.
Countries saw basic services, many already inadequate, curtailed or eliminated in the name of austerity.
The elites amassed fortunes while almost everyone else fell into economic misery. The political and economic landscape became unstable. Ecuador had seven presidents between 1996 and 2006, the year in which Correa was elected.
It suffered a massive banking crisis in 1999. It switched the country's currency to the U.S. dollar in desperation. The chaos in Ecuador was mirrored in countries such as Bolivia and Argentina.
Argentina fell into a depression in 1998 that saw the economy shrink by 28 percent.
Over 50 percent of Argentines were thrust into poverty.
It was out of this neoliberal morass that the left regrouped and took power.
Long admitted that there have been serious setbacks, but he insisted that the left is not broken.
Long conceded that his government had made powerful enemies, not only by granting political asylum to Assange in its embassy in London but by taking Chevron Texaco to court to try to make it pay for the ecological damage its massive oil spills caused in the Amazon, where the company drilled from the early 1960s until it pulled out in 1992.
It left behind some 1,000 toxic waste pits. The oil spills collectively were 85 times the size of the British Petroleum spill in the Gulf of Mexico and 18 times the size of the spill from the Exxon Valdez.
An Ecuadorean court ordered Chevron Texaco to pay $18.2 billion in damages, an amount later reduced to $9.5 billion. The oil giant, however, has refused to pay. Ecuador has turned to international courts in an attempt to extract the money from the company.
Guillaume Long said that the different between the massive oil spills elsewhere and the Ecuadorean spills was that the latter were not accidental.
Long said his government was acutely aware that Chevron Texaco has,
One of those consequences was an abortive coup in September 2010 by members of the Ecuadorean National Police. It was put down by force.
Long charged that many of the Western NGO's in Ecuador and throughout the region are conduits for money to right-wing parties. Military and police officials, along with some politicians, have long been on the CIA's payroll in Latin America.
President Correa in 2008 dismissed his defense minister, army chief of intelligence, commanders of the army and air force, and the military joint chiefs, saying that Ecuador's intelligence systems were,
Long said that even with the political reverses suffered by the left it will be difficult for the rightists to reinstate strict neoliberal policies.
Corporate leviathans and the imperialist agencies that work on their behalf are once again reshaping Latin America into havens for corporate exploitation.
It is the eternal story of the struggle by the weak against the strong, the poor against the rich, the powerless against the powerful, and those who would be free against the forces of imperialism.